On February 18, 1893, Alabama
adopted the goldenrod
as the official flower — of the United States!
On September 6, 1927, it was adopted as Alabama’s state flower. The yellowhammer
was adopted as the state bird on the same day.
The Ladies’ Southern Memorial Association of Montgomery wrote, “The goldenrod has the Confederate colors, gray and yellow.” The yellowhammer was also seen as a symbol of the Civil War because of its colors.
But residents of the small town of Greenville weren’t happy with the goldenrod. Greenville called itself the “Camellia City.” So the Men’s Camellia Club promoted a bill to adopt the camellia as Alabama’s state flower.
It was argued that camellias were commercially important, earning millions of dollars for growers. They produce fine blooms during nine months of the year, including winter when few other plants blossom. Even when not in bloom, camellias make fine evergreen landscape plants. Camellias also helped the economy by attracting tourists. In addition, it was hoped that old people would grow camellias in their retirement.
It’s also said that some people believed that goldenrod pollen irritated people with allergies. In fact, the goldenrod was incorrectly blamed for reactions caused by ragweed.
On August 26, 1959, the camellia became Alabama’s new state flower. No particular variety of camellia was designated. Since Alabama’s official colors are red and white, the red camellia is considered by some the official state flower. Camellias can also be white, pink, or a mixture.
Alabama’s state flower is the only symbol not native to Alabama. It’s from Asia. Camellias are named for G.J. Kamel, a Jesuit priest who traveled in Asia in the seventeenth century.